Mashaba Unveils ActionSA’s Plan Reclaim Hijacked and Abandoned Buildings

ActionSA today unveiled our plan to ignite South Africa’s economic growth and address the country’s housing crisis by reclaiming hijacked and abandoned buildings and factories across the country.

The plan builds on the work I did as the City of Johannesburg Mayor where, during my tenure as Mayor, the Council approved the release of 154 properties and 37 abandoned factories to the private sector for mixed-use development, including affordable accommodation and student housing.

When I launched the Inner-City Revitalisation Project in 2017, I had the vision of turning the city into a construction site. Had the 191 sites been fully developed, it would have resulted in an estimated R32 billion in new investment in the city, created an estimated 21,000 construction jobs, and approximately 14,500 affordable housing opportunities.

Unfortunately, after my resignation as Executive Mayor the project stalled under successive administrations. But today I want to commit that under an ActionSA government, we will roll out this programme across the country, igniting an unprecedented level of economic growth while providing affordable accommodation opportunities at a scale never seen before in our country.

I make this commitment today speaking at the Focus 1 Student Accommodation in the Johannesburg inner city – a building which I helped reclaim from hijackers as City of Johannesburg Mayor.

The importance of this project must be understood against the economic and housing crises facing South Africans. In a country where economic growth is at a dismal 0.6% and unemployment remains stagnant above 40%, creating real job opportunities is critical to creating an inclusive and prosperous society. Reclaiming hijacked and abandoned buildings and handing them to the private sector would enable this, thereby improving the lives of our people.

Moreover, thirty years after democracy, the ruling party’s RDP housing programme has failed to address the growing housing backlog in the country. It is estimated that the housing backlog in the City of Johannesburg currently stands at 500,000. Against this backdrop the city is only constructing approximately 2,000 RDP houses a year. This model has failed South Africans and further exasperated Apartheid Spatial Planning.

ActionSA’s plan will start to address this backlog by developing higher density housing opportunities in well-located areas close to economic opportunities, thereby undoing the legacy of Apartheid Spatial Planning. Citizens must be able to live, work and play in safe and inclusive communities.

Addressing the scourge of hijacked buildings is central to this approach. During my time as Mayor, we identified 643 hijacked and adopted a comprehensive, multi-pronged approach to rehabilitating them. As a party which values social justice and economic prosperity, an ActionSA government would identify all buildings in South Africa’s cities that have been abandoned or hijacked by criminal organisations and will implement a national strategy to rehabilitate them.

Where necessary, ActionSA would expropriate hijacked and abandoned buildings using the existing legislative framework. We believe expropriation, even without compensation, is entirely possible within Section 25 of the South African Constitution.

The Focus 1 building is a testament to what is possible when you combine political will with the power of the private sector. ActionSA believes it is possible to give South Africans a better life with housing opportunities closer to where jobs and tertiary opportunities are located. The ruling party has, however, proven unwilling to address the issue, and South Africans therefore need to take action at the ballot box on 29 May 2024 to remove the ruling party.

Only action will ensure that we can reclaim hijacked buildings and create a better life for our people.